Pandemic puts pupils in peril

Most students welcome, but some oppose postponement of entrance exams

Society

April 26, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Pandemic puts pupils in peril

Education of over 1.54 billion students disrupted globally due to shutdown of schools and institutions, UNESCO (MIG photos/Aman Kanojiya)

The National Testing Agency, announced its decision to postpone the JEE (Main) 2021, scheduled in April, in view of the second wave of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. While this decision was welcomed by some students, it became a cause of stress for others.

The education sector all around the world and especially in India has been grappling with the sudden transformation from classroom teaching to digital education. The sudden shift of mode of teaching has made many students vulnerable to stress and anxiety of coping up with the transformation amid the deadly pandemic.

In view of the second wave and the ever rising number of Covid-19 cases, the national testing agency announced its decision to postpone JEE (Main) 2021 scheduled for April 27, 28 and 30, 2021. The first two sessions of JEE (Main) were conducted in February and March, 2021.

While this decision was welcomed by an overwhelming number of students who are in class 12 and are preparing for board examinations along with the competitive exams, the announcement came as a cause of alarm for those who had dropped a year to prepare for these examinations.

“I had spent the last two years of my school life preparing for these exams at the expense of my social life and other interests. Even after that, when my friends were enjoying their college life I had been at home preparing, the only thought that comes to my mind right now is when this will end,” Manthan Garg, a student preparing for JEE (Main) 2021, tells Media India Group.

The decision came soon after the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) announced the postponement of class 12 board examinations and the cancellation of class 10 board examinations and after weeks of demands by students and several leading politicians to put off the examinations due to the unprecedented rise in cases.

The dilemma

Conducting exams in the present scenario without exposing the students as well as the examiners and other personnel and their families to extreme risk of contracting the illness is seemingly impossible. Yet those students who dropped a year or two are feeling desperate, despite the fear of the pandemic.

“Even though we are apprehensive of physically going to the centres to appear for JEE, the delay in exams is really frustrating,” says Garg.

“The delay does increase the mental pressure, last year we appeared for NEET in September, we all thought in 2021, the situation will be better, no one thought it would worsen. After September we thought it will be just 6-7 months and we won’t have to wait an entire year to appear again, the wait is really stressful,” Muskan Singh, a student preparing for NEET tells Media India Group.

On the other hand students like Vidit who are currently in high-school preparing for competitive examinations along with their class 12 boards have another story to tell, “The boards will be postponed most probably to June 2021, and we need time to prepare, so I think that like JEE even NEET 2021 should be postponed, as we cannot appear for the paper in just a month after giving our board examinations,” says Vidit.

Rise in dropout rate

As per UNESCO, education of over 1.54 billion students has been disrupted globally due to the abrupt shutdown of schools and institutions due to the pandemic. Many students are giving up their education as they were unable to attend classes. For many, their syllabus was missed due to the lockdown.

The postponement has also induced a laid back attitude in students with respect to their studies. “Yes it’s very common, when you’re preparing for over 3-4 years, since most of us start preparing for NEET in class 11, and there is an announcement that the exams have been postponed for four months we think that okay, we can chill for two more days without studying which gradually turns into a week and so on but when you have dropped a year you cannot afford this attitude as focusing in this period is even more difficult for us,” says Singh.

While it has been difficult for students to concentrate, the professors have also faced a hard time keeping their students motivated during the delay all the while adapting to the online mode of teaching.

Incompetence of government

Many professors who teach such students have been criticising the government’s inability to find a solution to this problem after observing the condition of country’s education sector in 2020. While the number of attempts for JEE (Main) 2021were increased from two to four, no steps were taken to provide a safer environment for students appearing for it.

“I believe that the government had enough time to set some provisions for these students, not just education but the collapse of health sector is also proof of their incompetence,” Anil Kumar, a physics teacher based in Meerut tells Media India Group.

“Keeping the current situation of the pandemic, postponement is the last resort but the fact that it will increase mental pressure on students is being overlooked. For how long can you concentrate on the same course, how many times can you revise it. There is no certainty that you will get admitted. Moreover, parents do not know how to keep their children motivated and this uncertainty adds to the mental pressure which in turn impacts the performance of the students,” he added.

 

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